NYC council plans crackdown on fast-delivery apps’ ‘dark stores,’ worker safety

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A trio of bills set to be proposed in the New York City Council is eyeing a crackdown on rapid grocery delivery apps such as Gopuff, Getir and Gorillas by regulating their storefronts and adding safety measures for workers, The Post has learned. 

The first bill, from Upper East Side City Council Member Julie Menin, would require the apps’ storefronts — often known as “dark stores” — to be licensed and regulated by the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. The agency, which Menin herself previously led, would have the authority to revoke licenses for misleading advertising or deceptive trade practices, among other violations.

Two other bills, from downtown Manhattan Council Member Christopher Marte, would limit the weight of the backpacks worn by delivery workers and take aim at promises to delivery goods within specific timeframes.

One of Marte’s bills would require business that promise to deliver within 15 minutes to include disclaimers stating that “delivery is not guaranteed within 15 minutes… for the safety of the public and delivery workers.” The bill would also ban companies from retaliating against workers who fail to make speedy deliveries.

“These stores are operating in the city in a completely unregulated fashion,” New York City Council member Julie Menin told The Post.
Robert Miller for NY Post

Critics including Marte say that fast delivery apps incentivize employees to break traffic laws, driving electric bikes on sidewalks and endangering pedestrians. 

“These stores are operating in the city in a completely unregulated fashion,” Menin told the Post. “The advantage of licensing [gives the city] the power to suspend or revoke the license so they are not operating in this lawless atmosphere.” 

The Post first reported on Marte’s plans to regulate delivery times in February. In the following months, several apps including Gorillas dropped references to specific delivery times from their marketing materials — a move that industry watchers said was likely an effort to save on labor costs. 

A Gopuff store on the Upper East Side.
Gopuff laid off 10% of its employees this week.
William C. Lopez/NY Post

Regarding backpacks, Marte’s bill would fine companies $2,500 for denying a delivery employee future work opportunities for refusing to deliver goods weighing more than 22 pounds in a single trip.

Menin and Marte plan to tout the bills at a City Hall press conference on Thursday morning alongside activists from the Los Deliveristas Unidos — a coalition of New York City delivery workers — as well as members of the Bodega and Small Business Group and the Asian American Federation. 

However, the current economic downturn may bring the fast delivery industry to heel before the City Council has a chance to pass any legislation. 

A Gorillas mini-warehouse in Brooklyn.
A Gorillas mini-warehouse in Brooklyn.
AP
Two Getir workers packing a delivery order.
Fast delivery grocery workers would get new protections under the proposed legislation.
REUTERS

Investors are pulling out of the industry amid soaring interest rates and a stock market slump, hanging many delivery companies out to dry after they expanded rapidly during the pandemic. 

One of the largest fast delivery companies, Jokr, closed its Big Apple and Boston operations in June. Two other fast delivery apps, Buyk and Fridge No More, both shut down in March, as first reported by The Post.

And Gopuff, the largest of the fast delivery apps, announced it was laying off 10% of its staff on Tuesday. The company had already laid off about 3% of its workforce earlier this year. 

Getir, meanwhile, axed 14% of its global workforce in May. 

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